Handling Hilly Lies
The following are the basic four types of sloping lies. For any of these shots, a good rule of thumb is to use less weight shift and a more compact swing due to risk of losing balance and miss-hits.
Uphill lie: (you are shooting straight up the slope). Since it is difficult to shift your weight up the hill during the swing, accept the fact that you will not. Therefore, move the ball position back in your stance. You can move the ball a little back of the middle of your stance. Stay with a ¾ swing and take a little more club as the ball flight will come off higher due to the slope. Avoid shifting your weight on the swing and focus on solid contact. The ball has a tendency to pull left on this shot (for a right-handed player).
Downhill lie: (you are shooting straight down the slope) Play the ball back in your stance. The ball will come out lower so you may need a little less club. Lean more of your weight to the front foot and think of an early wrist break during the take away. Keep your weight on the front side throughout the backswing. On the downswing, you can shift weight but make sure your knees flex as you shift to help you swing (high to low) and keep you down to the ball. The ball has a tendency to push right on this shot (for a right-handed player). Avoid over-swinging!
Ball below your feet lie: A very tough lie and easy to top this shot unless you spread your stance wider and sit lower in your stance. Stick to a ¾ swing and do not shift weight as that may lift you out of your posture and cause a miss-hit. The ball has a tendency to push right on this shot (for a right-handed player); Staying balanced is the key here.
Ball above your feet lie: An easier lie in general. Play the ball in the middle of your stance and either: choke down on the club to adjust for the fact you are closer to the ball or back away and hold the club normally. Stand a little straighter up to flatten your swing and only use a ¾ swing. Focus on a clean strike, the ball has a tendency to pull left on this shot (for a right-handed player).
Shots from the Long Grass or Rough
When playing from the rough, the first thing you should do is assess how difficult the lie is. Once that is determined, select the best club for the shot. This may even be a sand wedge just to pitch it back into the fairway. If the lie is reasonable and you think you can advance it, try these adjustments:
1) Aim slightly left (for a RH player), open the face slightly and play for a fade shot.
2) Stand slightly closer to the ball to encourage a more vertical swing, ideal for hitting a descending blow to the ball. Keep a little more weight on the forward foot throughout the swing.
3) Avoid the anxiety of wanting to look up early, stay down longer with this shot.
4) Try and practice more from the rough when you can and build up the wrist strength necessary for these shots.
Fran Rhoads, PGA